• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Rise and Fall of Obamacare: Will the Inside Story Ever be Told?

Photo by Marc Nozell | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Marc Nozell | CC BY 2.0

My friend and former colleague Wendell Potter, the CIGNA insurance public relations chief who saw the evil of his ways and left his job, is starting a new non-profit journalism enterprise called Tarbell.

The investigative story I want to see from Wendell is one I am sure he will never tell:  an insider exposé of the ugly rise and fall of Obamacare.  This is a story Wendell knows inside and out, but I doubt he will ever really come to grips with its truth: Obamacare was a pro-industry Democrat scam that destroyed an opportunity for single payer education and reform and ultimately brought devastating political ruin to the Democrats themselves.

I welcomed Wendell Potter to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) staff in May, 2009,  just before I retired from CMD as its Founder and Executive Director.   Wendell arrived with a $100,000 grant in hand from TIDES Foundation to support his work as an insurance industry insider turned NGO reform activist and whistle blower. He testified before Congress,  was featured by Bill Moyers Journal, and became a popular and admired public face of the liberal health reform movement in America.

Before I brought Wendell into CMD, he assured me that he was committed to single payer, but that turned out to be false.   Instead, Wendell promoted Obamacare, a sop to the drug and insurance industry which helped the Democrats keep single payer ‘off the table,’ effectively killing real health care reform in America.

I estimate that TIDES and other liberal foundations, individual donors, unions and corporations dumped over $100 million into the Democrats well-oiled NGO lobby and PR effort to pass Obamacare. Much of this money moved through or was coordinated by a rich but short-lived lobby group called Health Care for America Now. HCAN’s scores of members included US Action, MoveOn, SEIU, AFSCME, and the usual liberal laundry list of Democrat-aligned NGO organizations.  Wendell participated intimately in its PR and lobbying and knows its story well from the inside.  That is what I would pay Tarbell to tell, because it is a story that America needs to hear, now that Obamacare is being destroyed by its own contradictions, corruptions, and the rise of Trump.

I told Wendell in the Fall of 2009 that Obamacare, nothing but a recycled Heritage Foundation scheme, was a guaranteed failure, that it completely undermined single payer reform, and that it would certainly blow up in the face of the Democrats. He responded that as long as the so-called “Public Option” was part of it, it was worth supporting.  But the Public Option was stripped out by Obama and the Democrats, and then the rationale of the Democrats’ progressives in the HCAN lobby became ‘we must still support Obamacare and our President because not to do so would embarrass him and his key legislative proposal.’

Today it is clear that Obamacare has become a very bad movie, one rich with dark irony as we are now to witness its horror film ending: evisceration and decapitation by the Trump-led Republicans.  (Vincent Price should rise from the dead to narrate this one!)  Consider this: it was Obamacare alone that fueled the rise of the GOP’s Tea Party movement and led directly to the Democrats’ Congressional defeat in 2010.   It was then the failures and shortcomings of Obamacare, a political WMD in the hands of the political Right, that set the stage for the rise of Trump and his ascendancy to President.

That, in synopsis, is the true, tragic tale of Obamacare.   Wendell Potter witnessed and participated in this from the inside, and his insider story could blow the whistle on the Democrats and their NGO lobby, something that America needs to hear and understand.  The rise and fall of Obamacare is a crucial tale to understand how to bring about single payer in the future and, just as important, how the Democrats are adept at coopting and derailing such fundamental reform to serve industry and their own corrupt political agenda.

Unfortunately I don’t expect Wendell Potter and Tarbell to ever blow the whistle on Obamacare.  Hey, Wendell, surprise me!

More articles by:

John Stauber is an independent writer, activist and author.  His books include Toxic Sludge Is Good for YouMad Cow USA and Weapons of Mass Deception.  In 1993 he founded the Center for Media and Democracy to exposed corporate, political and media propaganda campaigns.  He retired from the Center in 2008.  http://www.linkedin.com/in/johnstauber.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
May 24, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire
Melvin Goodman
The Dangerous Demise of Disarmament
Jeffrey St. Clair
“The Army Ain’t No Place for a Black Man:” How the Wolf Got Caged
Richard Moser
War is War on Mother Earth
Andrew Levine
The (Small-d) Democrat’s Dilemma
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Way: Blaming Dead Pilots
Rev. William Alberts
Gaslighters of God
Phyllis Bennis
The Amputation Crisis in Gaza: a US-Funded Atrocity
David Rosen
21st Century Conglomerate Trusts 
Jonathan Latham
As a GMO Stunt, Professor Tasted a Pesticide and Gave It to Students
Binoy Kampmark
The Espionage Act and Julian Assange
Kathy Deacon
Liberals Fall Into Line: a Recurring Phenomenon
Jill Richardson
The Disparity Behind Anti-Abortion Laws
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Chelsea Manning is Showing Us What Real Resistance Looks Like
Zhivko Illeieff
Russiagate and the Dry Rot in American Journalism
Norman Solomon
Will Biden’s Dog Whistles for Racism Catch Up with Him?
Yanis Varoufakis
The Left Refuses to Get Its Act Together in the Face of Neofascism
Lawrence Davidson
Senator Schumer’s Divine Mission
Thomas Knapp
War Crimes Pardons: A Terrible Memorial Day Idea
Renee Parsons
Dump Bolton before He Starts the Next War
Yves Engler
Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela
Katie Singer
Controlling 5G: A Course in Obstacles
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Beauty of Trees
Jesse Jackson
Extremist Laws, Like Alabama’s, Will Hit Poor Women the Hardest
Andrew Bacevich
The “Forever Wars” Enshrined
Ron Jacobs
Another One Moves On: Roz Payne, Presente!
Christopher Brauchli
The Offal Office
Daniel Falcone
Where the ‘Democratic Left’ Goes to Die: Staten Island NYC and the Forgotten Primaries   
Julia Paley
Life After Deportation
Sarah Anderson
America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors
Seiji Yamada – John Witeck
Stop U.S. Funding for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines
Shane Doyle, A.J. Not Afraid and Adrian Bird, Jr.
The Crazy Mountains Deserve Preservation
Charlie Nash
Will Generation Z Introduce a Wizard Renaissance?
Ron Ridenour
Denmark Peace-Justice Conference Based on Activism in Many Countries
Douglas Bevington
Why California’s Costly (and Destructive) Logging Plan for Wildfires Will Fail
Gary Leupp
“Escalating Tensions” with Iran
Jonathan Power
Making the World More Equal
Cesar Chelala
The Social Burden of Depression in Japan
Stephen Cooper
Imbibe Culture and Consciousness with Cocoa Tea (The Interview)
Stacy Bannerman
End This Hidden Threat to Military Families
Kevin Basl
Time to Rethink That POW/MIA Flag
Nicky Reid
Pledging Allegiance to the Divided States of America
Louis Proyect
A Second Look at Neflix
Martin Billheimer
Closed Shave: T. O. Bobe, the Girl and Curl
David Yearsley
Hard Bop and Bezos’ Balls
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail